Look for your relatives in the 1911 Census

Posted by TheYank at 9/10/2009 11:35 AM EDT

Now we're cooking. As Kelly reports elsewhere on the site, the full 1911 Census of Ireland is now available online. This is absolutely tremendous.

For those of us whose grandparents or great-grandparents had not left Ireland by this time, it's actually exciting to see the forms. I found my great-grandfather's form, which included all sorts of little tidbits that I didn't know. First I had some trouble finding my great-grandfather's census form. Why? Because the database lists the family as Fahey and not Fahy, which it should be.

Yet, unlike the error by the people at Ellis Island, where my grandfather's name was spelled as Tahy, the problem with my great-grandfather's census form is that he didn't seem too settled on any particular spelling for the family name. He seems to spell the name with an "e" in his signature, but without the "e" in the "Surname" column.

This might seem a little odd, but if you read Mike O'Laughlin's column on Irish family names you'll get an idea as to how this might have happened. My great-grandfather was born in 1848 and - I'm assuming - grew up speaking Irish more than English. As an Irish-speaking friend once explained it to me, "The Anglicized name wasn't really their name anyway so a lot of people didn't mind how it was spelled in English."

Again, don't be put off if you have trouble finding your relatives. It's worth it to make that extra effort. And, be sure to have a look at the House and Building Return. That can take a bit of effort to figure out, but you can get an idea as to what the house was like and how it compared with their neighbors'.

I can't wait for the 1901 Census to go online next spring.

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